Friendly Fire. Washington Post Demolishes Planned Parenthood's Lies About Deaths From Illegal Abortions

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I’m not a huge fan of the Washington Post’s Fact Checking operation. While they’re neither the pathetic, sycophantic Democrat fluffers that are employed by PolitiFact and PolitiPundit nor the morons at Snopes who fact-check Babylon Bee and DuffleBlog, the WaPo is nowhere near fair and impartial. We’ve documented their follies time and again though their major achievement was rating a Mitt Romney statement as “true but false” in order to try to help out Barack Obama in 2012. But, on rare occasions, they are able to rise to the occasion.


Planned Parenthood is, without doubt, the most detestable and odious organization in operation in the United States today. Had they existed in 1945, they would have been declared a criminal organization by the Nuremberg Tribunal and their leaders dragged off the the gallows. The specialize in exactly one thing: killing babies in utero. And they protect their ability do this by spreading lies and deception and by working with a large body of fellow travelers who claim that abortionists and abortion clinics should operate under less stringent guidelines than your average tattoo parlor. One of those lies is that legal abortion has stopped a widespread slaughter of women who sought illegal abortions prior to 1973.

“We face a real situation where Roe could be overturned. And we know what will happen, which is that women will die. Thousands of women died every year pre-Roe.”

— Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood, in an interview with WFAA of Dallas, March 6, 2019

“Before Roe v. Wade, thousands of women died every year — and because of extreme attacks on safe, legal abortion care, this could happen again right here in America.”

— Wen, in a tweet, April 24, 2019

“We’re not going to go back in time to a time before Roe when thousands of women died every year because they didn’t have access to essential health care.”

— Wen, interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” May 22

Their other big lie is the 1-in-3 women have had an abortion. (There are about 61 million women in the US of childbearing age, there are about 1 million abortions each year. Do the math.)


For reasons that are unclear, Glenn Kessler decided to actually look into this…and publish the result.

This is where the number comes from:

Meanwhile, [Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Erica] Sackin also sent a variety of reports, many of which were referenced in a footnote in a document published by NARAL Pro-Choice America. One of the citations especially caught our eye: Frederick Taussig, “Abortion Spontaneous and Induced: Medical and Social Aspects,” (1936).

Why was a study from 1936 being referenced?

Taussig, who died in 1943, was a gynecologist and influential advocate of legalized abortion. In his book, he calculated that the number of deaths from abortion was between 8,000 and 10,000 a year. But it was not a very rigorous calculation, based on a mix of theory and data from the United States and Germany. Just 13 states recorded such data in 1927 and 15 in 1928. That added up to 912 deaths from abortion a year. Because the states represented 26 percent of the birth registration of the United States, Taussig multiplied it to come up with 3,508 a year. He then rounded it up to 4,000 to account for oversampling of rural areas. Then he assumed half of the deaths were concealed, so he doubled it to 8,000 and concluded it was no more than 10,000.

But he admitted that just five years earlier, he had estimated 15,000 deaths in another paper. “I am convinced my previous estimates were too high,” he wrote. A few years later, in 1942, he revised the figure yet again, down to 5,000.


Subseqent research concluded that there was no widespread concealment of the deaths of women and the actual number of deaths. In 1959, Mary Steichen Calderone, then the time medical director of Planned Parenthood, wrote:

“Abortion is no longer a dangerous procedure. This applies not just to therapeutic abortions as performed in hospitals but also to so-called illegal abortions as done by physicians. In 1957, there were only 260 deaths in the whole country attributed to abortions of any kind. In New York City in 1921, there were 144 abortion deaths, in 1951 there were only 15.”

As a point of reference, today about 29 women die each year from the effects of abortion (from 1999-2017, 534 coded O00-O07 under ICD-10, died according to CDC’s mortality data).

Kessler awards the claim Four Pinocchios–the most egregious level of lying they recognize with this comment:

Wen is a doctor, and the ACOG is made up of doctors. They should know better than to peddle statistics based on data that predates the advent of antibiotics. Even given the fuzzy nature of the data and estimates, there is no evidence that in the years immediately preceding the Supreme Court’s decision, thousands of women died every year in the United States from illegal abortions.

Wen’s repeated use of this number reminds us of the shoddy data used by human trafficking opponents. Unsafe abortion is certainly a serious issue, especially in countries with inadequate medical facilities. But advocates hurt their cause when they use figures that do not withstand scrutiny. These numbers were debunked in 1969 — 50 years ago — by a statistician celebrated by Planned Parenthood. There’s no reason to use them today.


Indeed, and if more news organizations refused to be stump-broke by the abortion mafia and looked into their claims they would found that the whole thing rests on a foundation of lies, shattered lives, money, and dead babies.

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